During his seven years in the UK distant water trawling fleet, forestry had always seemed an attractive alternative to Hilary Burke, should a change of occupation be required. While the vessel he was aboard was tied up at North Shields, he joined the squad of a Newcastle-based landscaper and tree surgeon. After a week with a spade he was offered a caravan in the woods and a chainsaw. A stand of 100-year-old beech was to be felled for a north Yorkshire sawmiller. The work eventually completed, he moved back to the tree surgery side, interspersed with hardwood and softwood harvesting and extraction. Being in Northumberland, it was maybe inevitable he would end up cutting with the big clearfelling squads at Kielder – with a spell in Kent and Sussex clearing the ‘hurricane’ damage. A temporary six-month lease of a property in the middle of Kielder forest has now stretched to 30 years, with most of his time on the saw cutting timber close to home in the Kielder thinning programme.

Latest articles from Hilary Burke

Thinning Brown’s Wood

Oakleaf demo day: Thinning Brown’s Wood

Operations to thin broadleaf woodland in Leicestershire provided an ideal opportunity to showcase a range of low-impact machinery available from Oakleaf Forestry. Hilary Burke visited the demo day hosted by Oakleaf and Sharkey Forestry to learn more.

Fuelwood: Open for business

Fuelwood: Open for business

Following the cancellation of APF 2020, Fuelwood opted to host a demonstration week at its refurbished site in Warwick in September and at the Fuelwood Scotland site near Edinburgh in early October. Hilary Burke reports on how the events went.

The classic view of Glen Affric. The passes at its head were the routes taken by the Highland drovers who brought cattle from the west coast and the islands to the markets of the east.

The land of the mountain and the flood

Some commentators have recently suggested forestry management and water management systems should be able to have a symbiotic relationship – living together for mutual benefit rather than competing for control of territory. Following a visit to Glen Affric, Hilary Burke wonders whether the Highland glen might hold a few clues as to the way forward.

The Forest Research plot above the village of Cardrona is one of five such replicates established in Great Britain. The growth characteristics of alternative timber-producing species of various provenances are being put under the spotlight.

Glentress: the private and public

A special event afforded ICF and SRFS members the opportunity to visit Glentress Forest in the Scottish Borders to learn about its management and ongoing development. Hilary Burke reports.

Leicestershire forestry contractor Eric Porter (now retired) last thinned Martinshaw Wood around 15 years ago. The Western red cedar he cut went south to Bedfordshire to be cleft into traditional shingles for a special project.

Secure logging

Established in Derbyshire over 20 years ago as a log and kindling supplier, Midlands Logging Company has grown to become one of the region’s leading timber contracting businesses. Hilary Burke met with owner and managing director Luke Evans to learn about his operations in Martinshaw Wood and discuss site security.

The hydraulically elevating cab of the Sennebogen 718 allows the operator an enhanced view of the work in hand.

Working the field

Hilary Burke reports from Lodge Farm in Lincolnshire, where contractor KWR Plant’s Senneboggen 718 is being put to work on reducing the height of a shelterbelt of crack willow.

The totem tradition

The totem tradition

The totem pole, thought to have originated with the Haida Native American peoples in the Pacific Northwest region of America, is now seen around the globe. Here, Hilary Burke charts the history of the decorative timberwork and highlights the work of chainsaw carver Simon Jackson, who has created three totems erected in Northumberland National Park.